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Introduction to Realms Four and Five - from WAYS OF KNOWING THROUGH THE REALMS OF MEANING by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
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Introduction to Realms Four and Five - from WAYS OF KNOWING THROUGH THE REALMS OF MEANING by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

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Introduction to Realms Four and Five - from WAYS OF KNOWING THROUGH THE REALMS OF MEANING by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

Introduction to Realms Four and Five - from WAYS OF KNOWING THROUGH THE REALMS OF MEANING by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

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  • 1. Copyright © 2011 by William Allan Kritsonis/All Rights Reserved INTRODUCTION TO REALMS FOUR AND FIVE INSIGHTS1. The synnoetic realm is not constituted by a set of standard academic disciplines, corresponding to the constituents of the symbolic, empirical, esthetic, and synoptic realms.2. The exposition of synnoetics requires the use of an assorted se- lection of movements growing up within disciplines belonging to other realms, chiefly psychology, literature, religion, and phi- losophy.3. It is not customary to offer courses in relational insight, per- sonal knowledge, or existential awareness, nor are there standard scholarly associations devoted to the pursuit of such knowledge.4. The advancement of knowledge in the ethical sphere does not occupy a place in academic and scholarly affairs parallel to the study of language, mathematics, science, art, history, and philosophy. (Religion, like morals, has ambiguous standing among the fields of knowledge.)5. The personal and moral types of knowledge are not abstract and objective to the same extent as the other realms. 67
  • 2. 68 PART TWO: FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF MEANING6. Expert knowledge in these fields is not concentrated in distinct professional academic associations to the same extent as knowledge in the other realms.7. The conflicts and uncertainties of personal and moral knowl- edge exceed those in any other kind of knowledge.8. The more searching demands of synnoetics and ethics tend to drive persons of knowledge into the more manageable realms of symbolics, empirics, esthetics, and (for the most daring) synop- tics.9. The one-sidedness of the academic world mirrors the one-sided- ness of society generally, in its reluctance and inability to deal effectively with the elemental personal and moral de- mands of life. ____________________
  • 3. INTRODUCTION TO REALMS FOUR AND FIVE 69The three realms of knowledge described thus far in Part Two allcomprise disciplines and groups of disciplines that are familiar in or-ganized academic and scholarly life. Schools and colleges offercourses in language, mathematics, the sciences, and the arts. Recog-nized professional societies exist for the promotion of knowledge inthese fields. The same is true of the sixth real (synoptics) comprisingthe disciplines of history, religion, and philosophy. THE SYNNOETIC REALM The fourth and fifth realms, now to be considered, do not fitneatly into this pattern. So unfamiliar is the domain of personalknowledge within the prevailing system that a new term,“synnoetics,” seemed required to represent it. The synnoetic realm isnot constituted by a set of standard academic disciplines, correspond-ing to the constituents of the symbolic, empirical, esthetic, and synop-tic realms. Instead, the exposition of synnoetics requires the use of anassorted selection of movements growing up within disciplines belong-ing to other realms, chiefly psychology, literature, religion, and phi-losophy. It is not customary to offer courses in relational insight,personal knowledge, or existential awareness, nor are there stan-dard scholarly associations devoted to the pursuit of such knowledge. THE ETHICAL REALM A similar situation pertains with respect to the ethical realm.To be sure, moral meanings are studied in moral philosophy, and ethics—the critical analysis of moral judgments—is one of the standardbranches of the discipline of philosophy. Nevertheless, the advance-ment of knowledge in the ethical sphere does not occupy a place inacademic and scholarly affairs parallel to the study of language,mathematics, science, art, history, and philosophy. (Religion, likemorals, has ambiguous standing among the fields of knowledge.)
  • 4. 70 PART TWO: FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF MEANING SYNNOETICS AND ETHICAL REALMS ARE ESSENTIAL AND PROBLEMATIC Among all the realms, the two dealing with personal andmoral knowledge are at one and the same time the most essential andthe most problematical. They are the most essential because theydeal with elemental human meanings that sustain all other knowl-edge. They go most directly to the core of personhood and color everytype of understanding. Because they are so elemental they are alsoproblematical. The personal and moral types of knowledge are notabstract and objective to the same extent as the other realms. Theyare definitely more affected by the contradictions and perplexities ofconcrete human existence. For the same reason, expert knowledge inthese fields is not concentrated in distinct professional academic asso-ciations to the same extent as knowledge in the other realms. The con-flicts and uncertainties of personal and moral knowledge exceedthose in any other kind of knowledge. AWKWARDNESS AND SPECIAL PROBLEMS The awkwardness of this situation has been a matter of seriousconcern in the working out of the present philosophy of the realms ofmeaning. There is no claim made that the difficulties in the analysishere presented have all been eliminated. This introductory note is toacknowledge that questions still remain and that they are evident tothe author, as they will undoubtedly be to the reader. How shall we deal with the special problems posed by these tworealms? It could be argued the two do not fit neatly into the generalscheme because they do not belong in any scheme of knowledge. It maybe urged that personal understanding and moral judgments are not inany definable sense knowledge, that no canons of criticism and vali-dation can be devised for them, and that no communities of disciplinedinquiry can arise to deal with such matters.
  • 5. INTRODUCTION TO REALMS FOUR AND FIVE 71SYNNOETIC AND ETHICS HAVE DISTINCTIVE LOGICAL FEATURES Against this argument it can be urged that it is difficult to es-cape the perennial persistent claims of personal insight and of moralconsciousness. As will be shown in Chapters 16 and 17, logical inquiryreveal that these two realms have distinctive logical features thatdo not permit them to be subsumed under any other realms. If they donot seem to qualify as knowledge, it may be that the criteria of whatcounts as knowledge need to be broadened and more precise distinctionsamong the varieties of knowledge need to be made. The possibility ofexpert understanding in these realms can also be defended, both byreference to the great seers and prophets of humankind and to certainmovements within professional scholarship itself. THE SEARCHING DEMANDS OF SYNNOETICS AND ETHICS Perhaps the seeming strangeness of the personal and moralfields among the academic realms reflects some limitation in thescholarly world itself. Academic man feels relatively secure withthe problems of language, science, literature, history, and the othertraditional fields of learning. He can objectify, abstract, and masteror manage ideas in these domains. He cannot so easily claim masteryin the realms of personal understanding and moral judgment, forthese are precisely the domains in which managing and manipulatingmust give way to acknowledging, accepting, obeying, and making sac-rifices. The more searching demands of synnoetics and ethics tend todrive men of knowledge into the more manageable realms of symbol-ics, empirics, esthetics, and (for the most daring) synoptics. DIFFICULTIES MAY ARISE OUT OF THE HUMAN SITUATION ITSELF The reason these two kinds of knowledge do not appear to fitneatly into the structure may not be due to any deficiency in them,but to the one-sidedness of the academic world which results fromtimidity and resistance to dealing seriously and persistently with con-cerns that touch the core of personal being. If such is the case, thesolution to the problem posed by these realms lies in giving special at-tention to the development of disciplined insight in them. Actually the problem of these fields may not be caused by theweakness in the world of scholars alone. The difficulties may ariseout of the human situation itself, in which everyone, scholar and non-scholar alike, is involved. The one-sidedness of the academic world, tothe extent that it exists, mirrors the one-sidedness of society general-ly, in its reluctance and inability to deal effectively with the elemen-tal personal and moral demands of life. Finally, if this view of the situation is correct, the awkward-ness introduced into the scheme of knowledge by including the personaland moral realms should serve as a stimulus to greater responsibilityfor disciplined inquiry in these fields and to deeper concern for theirplace in the program of general education. WAYS OF KNOWING1. Why do recognized professional societies exist?2. How would you describe the synnoetic realm?3. How would you describe the ethics realm?4. Why isn’t it customary to offer courses in relational insight, personal knowledge, or existential awareness?5. Why doesn’t the advancement of knowledge in the ethical sphere occupy a place in academic and scholarly affairs par-
  • 6. 72 PART TWO: FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF MEANING allel to the study of language, mathematics, science, art, his- tory, and philosophy?6. Why are personal and moral knowledge most essential?7. Why do the conflicts and uncertainties of personal and moral knowledge exceed those in any other kind of knowledge?8. How should one deal with the special problems posed by the synnoetic and ethical realms?9. Should the criteria of what counts as knowledge be broadened and more precise in regard to the synnoetic and ethical realms?10. What are the searching demands of synnoetics and ethics?11. Is there a one-sidedness of the academic world?12. Do the academic fields deal effectively with the elemental per- sonal and moral demands of life?